Running the African X
The three-day stage race set in the historic Houw Hoek valley is one epic trail running adventure exploring some of the most beautiful terrain the Western Cape has to offer. Teams of two mission on mountain trails through the Cape Floristic Region covering 90 kilometers over three days.
This year the event will be taking place from 11 – 13 March covering distances of 22 – 34km’s and an ascent of between 660 – 1100m per day.
African X has always been on my list of “adventures to complete before turning 30” but I never thought that I would actually have the balls to do it for a second time! I remember it being challenging, but any recollection of struggle, pain, injuries and mental fatigue have faded away and all I can recall from 2014 is one insane three-day escapade exploring scenic trails, feasting like royalty and having a jol (high on endorphins of course).
This year I am taking African X with my brother in law JB Steenkamp and although he can kick start a jumbo jet with the power in his legs, he has promised that I am the pace setter (so snails pace it is!).
In 2014 I didn’t priorities strength training and I mostly trained on the road, in fact African X was the first trail race that I took part in.
It’s been tricky squeezing in training whilst running an agency, so JB and I incorporated some shorter strength sessions and created our own schedule increasing the time on our legs as we increased our training.
Below is a sample of our weekly training but we suggest working off the programmes put together by the pros that you can find here: http://www.stillwatersports.com/event/africanx-trailrun/
Monday: 1hr strength training – Reformer Pilates (Sue, email@example.com)
Tuesday: climb Platteklip Gorge under 45min (taking cable car down mountain)
Wednesday: REST or weight training / WITC fitness session (boxing class, SUP yoga etc.)
Thursday: 50-60min Watt bike session (resistance 5) & 10- 20min row (level 8/10)
Friday: 1.5 hrs. trail run
Saturday: 2-4hrs. trail run including a lot of hills and challenging climbs
Sunday: REST or 1.5hr easy trail run
WORDS OF A WINNER
The overall African X distance can be quite daunting and it’s nerve racking when not knowing what to expect, so to give you a little race insight we asked the humble trail running legend Meg Mackenzie for some pointers based on her years of experience and following her 2015 African X victory, sharing first place with team mate (another trail running powerhouse) Landie Greyling:
African X is the epitome of gees, vibe and cool people! This is what will pull you through on those challenging moments, I promise!
When prepping and packing, lay it all out day by day and make sure you have the essentials for each your (don’t forget shoes and enough snacks). Its not in the middle of nowhere so don’t panic!
Eat whatever your body is used to… stick with real, whole food. I use RUSH Bars (http://www.rushbar.co.za/) which are packed with almonds, dates, chia seeds and other goodness. Buttanut (http://www.buttanutt.co.za/) is also a fantastic option!
The advice I would give is to treat it as a 90k run with breaks in between. Start your day 1 remembering you have 90 to go, not 30. This will help when you can tick off 30k at the end of day 1 and be rewarded with a lovely afternoon off. You should finish day 1 feeling like you could carry on… Also a huge element is fueling after each day. Even if you don’t feel like eating, try. It’s so important to chow down and put your feet up in between stages.
Your body can do infinitely more than you think it can. A bad patch in a race is called a bad patch because it’s just a patch, not forever. You’ll get through and be stronger for it!
Me concentrating hard trying to keep up with Meg machining through the trails while I chow her dust for breakie…
AFRICAN X ENTRIES
Whether you are a novice or a veteran trail runner we highly recommend joining Meg’s training groups, so check out her site for more info www.megmackenziecoaching.zo.za | Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Cover photo credit: geocigs.com